Fratton Park: Stick Or Twist?

Bob Beech shares his thoughts on whether Fratton Park should be redeveloped or whether the club should explore alternative options. 

OK, before we begin let’s address the mammoth sized elephant in the room, whichever side of the debate you sit Fratton Park as she looks today should have been bulldozed decades ago. For a 21st century club with ambition the old girl just isn’t fit for purpose.

While fingers have been pointed at the current board and accusations that they have no clear plan, it is previous regimes that should have brickbats slung at them, not a penny was been spent on ‘the Park’ for years other than a few extra seats shoe horned in here and there to squeeze more money out of fans during the Premier League days.

Things were left to literally rust and crumble to the point where when the club was finally rescued it was immediately faced with the capacity reduced due to the rotten infrastructure of the place, questions should perhaps be asked how the ground was allowed to get to that stage with the safety of supporters possibly compromised.

Since the takeover, resurrecting the fortunes of Fratton Park has been an ongoing process, much of the work carried out will have gone unnoticed by the majority of fans clicking through the turnstiles but they have been necessary to do when previous owners didn’t even bother with the pretence of papering over the cracks.

So where does this bring us?

The ever ongoing ‘stick or twist’ debate on whether we should refurbish Fratton Park or move to a brand new site has been long and hotly disputed in the pubs after matches. What should be looked at is the possibility of a suitable site for a new stadium within the city,

Portsmouth is cramped with most land eagerly snapped up by the University for the ever growing student population it’s hard to think where the land required for a football ground and the required roads and the like is in the city there is certainly nowhere on the island, well apart from Southsea common perhaps and lets not go there, not even in jest.

This leaves us with possible sites elsewhere perhaps on Farlington, been there done that, and King George V playing fields in Cosham. Both are, I think, non-starters the planning opposition for both would be long and costly, with little chance of succeeding while ‘Parkway’ was initially granted planning permission before being overturned by central government due to visiting geese. I can’t see that being revisited, whilst KGV would be an almost impossible sell. This would bring us to the possibility of leaving the city altogether, a thought that is anathema to me and I would guess most Pompey fans.

That then would leave us, with looking through Twitter earlier today, the first choice of the majority of fans – upgrading Fratton Park. The idea of turning the pitch was first mooted under Milan Mandaric, under Sacha Gaydamak the land all around Fratton Park was purchased to make that possible, I wonder whatever happened to that? Sorry I digress.

I know that there are those who are reading this who will disagree with me, but the deal over the land that has led to the Tesco development was a job well done by all concerned. It must be remembered that for reasons that we should revisit another time, Portsmouth Football Club did not own any of that land, we could have easily ended up with nothing. As it is some breathing space was secured, obviously in an ideal and fair world we would have retained control of all of it, but as we have all witnessed over the last few years where our club is concerned, it is far from fair or ideal.

Of course even with the land behind the North Stand we are limited with what can be achieved. The South Stand and Milton End are of course hemmed in by houses so limited planning permission could be sought to develop them beyond cosmetic improvements, perhaps more can be done with the Milton End, but from what I remember the current roof is the maximum height it can go due to light being blocked from the houses behind. I could be wrong here, but I can remember Peter Storrie talking about it on The Quay radio station so it must be true.

This then realistically leaves the Fratton End and North Stand, we all know that Mike Saunders from the Pompey Supporters’ Trust has devoted many hours to this, having had a couple of conversations with Mike on this I know how passionate he is about football stadium architecture and getting Fratton Park ‘right’.

So those of you who are shouting for Iain McInnes to ‘sort out Fratton Park’ are possibly correct, but what would you rather he, Mark Catlin and the board do? Buy up land using the clubs money but end up losing it all? Have a regular photo call with a JCB and yellow hard hat, yet never go any further than that? Or do you, like me, want them to thoroughly investigate how to best transform Fratton Park to a stadium that will see us into the future, with properly researched and funded proposal that will never risk the very being of our club?

The expansion of Fratton Park is not an easy fix – if it were those with big mouths in the past would have done it. The reality is, it will cost time and money. Currently we have time, and with all of us pitching when the time is right, the true legacy of ‘OURS’ will be a better Fratton Park, that future generations of Pompey fans can be proud of.

What do you think? You can comment below or interact on Twitter.  Want your blog published here? Email and we’ll share for all to read. 

11 thoughts on “Fratton Park: Stick Or Twist?

  1. The delusion in this thread is simply breathtaking.

    Where is the land, the fans and, importantly, the money going to come from to house, fill and fund this 35,000 to 40,000 behemoth ?

    ‘Our record crowd is over 53k’ – comedy gold !!

    Keep ’em coming – I’m loving it.. 🙂


  2. Great thoughts – hits a few the nails on their heads – for me, leaving the city is a definite ‘no’. I like what I’ve seen of Mike’s plans, and I respect his opinion of what can and can’t be done.


  3. Bob, I’m probably speaking out of turn. A) I’m a long time Gooner and B) I live in France. Having said that I did live and work in Hampshirefor a long time(69-03) and even ended up at Fratton Park on a regular basis sporting a straw boater as one of the “Boater Boys”. I’d love to see Pompey thrive again and I think the best route would be to find another location in the area and sell off the Fratton Park site as prime residential land (not sure whether it has planning permission but I would have thought the council would support it). As for “other sites” I’ve just been browsing Google Earth and there appear to be a few that look suitable but, no longer being “local”, I’ve no idea where they sit as to planning permission or geological suitability. These are at (1) Tipner (to the left of the motorway (listed as RN golf course?!)), (2) the old dog stadium, and (3) Whale Island (I know this is deep blue RN land but surely with more admirals than ships these days they cannot really justify keeping hold of it. All 3 could have good motorway access (I’m assuming the land fill area is a non starter). In addition there’s a large sports area by Copnor road (Roko health centre in the middle). Maybe negotiations could take place there for some “synergy” of use. The dutch are pretty good at building polders (as with North Harbour) but I guess the costs would be a problem with that (unless the council could come up with a plan for shared use with other sports or public facilities). Talking about councils how well entwined are they with the club to make something happen? A joint steering committee might be an idea. Anyway I could well be talking out of my derriere as I’m sure all of these points have been mulled over in every hostelry in and around Fratton over recent years. Even so I couldn’t resist throwing in my six penneth. Good luck.


  4. Great post Bob and I agree with your conclusion. I also agree with CHSltd post. Question: Would it be possible to build a new larger Fratton End type stand, ‘pitch width not length’, directly behind the current North Stand, PRIOR to destroying the existing North Stand? If so a plan to rotate the ground 90degrees in my opinion is by far the best option for the club. The Milton end, because of height restrictions can be brought forward width wise allowing for greater capacity and decent facilities behind, with section retained South West side for away fans. Then the Fratton End removed and replace with larger West Stand/Corporate Facilities/boxes. Lastly the existing South Stand redeveloped whilst either retaining or reproducing some of its original features, would be superb in my opinion for what it is worth. If fortunate enough to be able to construct in this way, the club can retain a reasonable working level of capacity whilst works are in process. It retains the club in the heart of the city, for rail links etc. Outside the City is a massive no from me, even though for me, living in Littlehampton, personally it would be easier. Capacity up to 40,000, as someone stated, not so sure about that. Even when in the Premier we did not ‘always’ sell out when under-performing. I would be happy with 28-35k. Being in stadiums less than half full, is of no great attraction. Best of luck to all involved, I know it is far from easy.


  5. By taking the club out of the city bob would be like ripping the heart out of portsmouth. We must think of all the local businesses. Agree with the above comment about leeds massive stand and i think the biggest cantilever stand in europe holding 10k in lower stand and 7k in top stand ?


  6. Time to leave the old girl, we need a complex that generates money 365 days a year, not just on match days. Its time for Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham and Gosport Councils to come together and give their community a sporting venue/complex it deserves.


  7. If Fratton Park cannot be Redeveloped to Capacity of at least 40k,I think I think a new Stadium should be built.I remember crowds of 40k.This club has always been undersold,and has a huge catchment area.Don’t forget the record crowd is over 53k.


  8. Bob, like most pompey fans I want us to stay at fratton park, it is what makes us unique. If we build a plastic bowl like most teams we will become like most teams…soulless. The board should be focusing on purchasing land behind the north stand, with a view to turning the ground around. A new home end behind the North Stand, a new bigger side stand where the current fratton end, a new bigger stand in front of where the milton end and keep the good old south stand. We could easily achieve 35k+.

    Get local businesses and fans involved one stand at a time and we can create something special.

    SiJ – Shepherds


    1. SiJ 35k would not ever generate enough revenue to compete with the majority of clubs in the Premier League.Better to build a new Stadium on reclaimed land at North Harbour,Bob


  9. can we buy more land behind the north stand……….then spin the ground round and away from south stand & Milton end so all 4 stands can be redeveloped properly

    moving off the island sounds awful…….soooo many out of town development lack a football day buzz (before,during & after the game)


  10. Spot on Bob. I would stick! Massive North Stand, Works ok at Leeds, except they don’t seem to fill it very often.
    Mike Saunders has some great ideas.


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